White Hat Sports Headlines

Thursday, May 29, 2008

First Annual NBA Draft Preview

Alright, here it is, the 1st annual White Hat Sports mock draft, as brought to you by Aaron Jackson. I've decided to make this a mix of two things; what I think the team should do and what I think the team will do. I'll do the series in groups of tens, and I'll start with the #1 pick.

1. Chicago Bulls-Michael Beasley: Yes, I am the guy that wrote a post saying Derek Rose should be the number 1 overall pick. And for just about any other team I would stick with that. But the Bulls need low post scoring, they have none at all. Beasley, worst case scenario, is probably Derrick Coleman, and even Coleman would be an improvement over just about anyone the Bulls currently throw out there. I do think Derrick Rose is a guaranteed superstar, and that Beasley isn't. But the Bulls have good guards already, and adding Beasley brings them to another level.

2. Miami Heat-Derrick Rose: Obviously, this draft is a two player draft at the top. While I wouldn't be surprised if the Heat traded this pick, I also know that Pat Riley is in love with Rose. A backcourt of Dwayne Wade and Rose will almost certainly be able to contend in the East, and they should have no problem adding more talent that want to play in Miami with such a talented duo. Personally, I would trade the pick if I was them because I think Rose is much more like Wade than people think, and having two similar players doesn't always work, but it'll be tough to find equal value.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves-O.J. Mayo: After the first two players in the draft the talent drops considerably. Mayo may have all kinds of talent, but he didn't wow me at any point at USC, and he doesn't seem to have a great attitude. The Wolves already have a player exactly like him: Rashad Mccants. That being said, if Mayo pans out and becomes what he potentially can, the Wolves look like idiots for not taking him. That, in the end, will force their hand into taking Mayo.

4. Seattle Supersonics-Eric Gordon: I think this guy will really do well in the NBA. A lot of scouts have the Sonics taking Jerryd Bayless here, but that is a huge gamble for them. I think Gordon has the higher upside, and I also think he is more likely to succeed in general. The problem is that Bayless is becoming the flavor of the month, and that may hurt Gordon, who's stock was higher earlier this year.

5. Memphis Grizzlies-Brook Lopez: You know how I feel about Stanford. I am the guy who said "I can't wait for the Lopez twins to be knocked out of the tournament, get drafted twenty spots too high, then go down the long road of underachieving big men." This was before they lost to Texas, and the first two parts of my prediction are right. Lopez is a lower first round talent trapped in a huge body, and his brother Robin is a guy that really probably shouldn't be drafted all together. I'll be the first one to admit I was wrong if he does well, but I don't see it happening.

6. New York Knicks-Danilo Gallinari: I haven't seen much of anything from this guy, but reading reports about him he sounds unbelievable. He may be good, he may not, but I think he will drafted here because of Mike Dantoni. I would like to see him play first, but if any of the reports are true this guy could be a great one. He will definitely fit in to Dantoni's system, and that's why he gets drafted here.

7. Los Angeles Clippers-Jerryd Bayless: I still think this is too high for him, but again, he's the flavor of the month. He could definitely be a good player, and he's shown flashes of developing into that. However, he lead Arizona almost nowhere, and that means something to me. Point guards are supposed to be leaders, and he didn't do that for Arizona. I could understand if a premier forward prospect can't lead his team far, but for a point guard to lead a very talented team nowhere shows me he doesn't have IT.

8. Milwaukee Bucks-Anthony Randolph: I don't really know where the Bucks go here. They have decent talent at every position, but besides Redd they don't have a genuine star at any position. I guess they are hoping Yi Jianlian turns into one, but I don't see it. If I was them I would've taken D.J. Augsustin here, but I think they go with Randolph because he's tall and has a lot of potential.

9. Charlotte Bobcats-Deandre Jordan: It's a toss-up for me here between Jordan and Kevin Love, but I give Jordan the advantage because of the failure so far of Sean May. May was built similarly to Love, and while Love has more range as a player, May has more athleticism. Jordan has a mix of both, and while he is all potential at this point, he could certainly pan out to become a good player.

10. New Jersey Nets-Darrell Arthur: This is basically a pick of needs only. They are set in their backcourt and small forward slots, but could use some front court depth. Sean Williams and Josh Boone are both young guys that are developing, and Arthur would fit right in with them. Arthur isn't the top player available, but he fits a need, and he isn't so far off the top slot that they can't take him here.

~Aaron Jackson

Kendrick Perkins needs handle bar Mustache to become the baddest man on the planet.

Picture it.

The monstrous man above, with a sweet handle bar mustache like say, Luis Tiant.

How tough would he looks, especially with he production that he has last night in the make or beak game 5 against the Detroit Pistons. He was all over the floor grabbing boards, scoring on fade aways (something that made me very nervous the first two times he tried it, because let's face it, he doesn't have the softest touch in the game). He played a terrific ball game, and really he has to for the Celtics to win this series and take a shot at winning the NBA Finals.

My buddy Zach and I were talking last night while watching the game and really figured out that the team that has the best bigs that night win the game. Game one, Perkins had a good night, KG was KG and PJ Brown continued his resurgence. (This caused me to go into my archiveand find his rookie card). Game three, Perkins and Garnett were great again, in game 4 it was all about Jason Maxiell and Antonio Mcdyess had huge nights. Last night we've covered so there you have it, the bigs win it and you have to have the contribution by more than one of them to get the ultimate result.

The things that has been irking me lately is that whoever wins the last game of the series is looked at to have all of the momentum. Before game 4 in Detroit all of the analyst's on Comcast said that they imagined the Celtics would continue to play well and would definitely win game 4 and then end the series early. My sentiments were exactly opposite, thinking that the Pistons with their backs against the proverbial wall, they are going to win that game. Then with the Celtics returning home they had a great shot to take care of business in game 5. Now the obvious pick to take game 6 is the Pistons, and that's probably how I would bet as of right now. (Right now the Pistons are giving 5.5 at home, not too bad).

The only thing that is keeping me from thinking that the Pistons are without a doubt taking this game is the fact that Rip Hamilton is going to be a game time decision. Chauncey Billups hasn't been attacking the basket, which is the only thing I think that his strained hammy has hurt about his game. I don't think he's that sore, I think that he's afraid to go hard on it. Hamilton might be out for game 6, and Rasheed Wallace picked up his 6Th technical of the postseason last night, one more and he is suspended for a game. So there is the possibility that even if Detroit wins game 6, that there could be a game 7 in Boston, and Detroit could be without, Rasheed Wallace and Richard Hamilton and (knocking a hole in the desk right now) the Celtics would be healthy.

Just think a year ago, Celtic fans were salivating over ping pong balls and drinking away their misery over the loss of the big prize and right now they're one win away from going to the NBA Finals.

Life is funny sometimes, what isn't funny is the way this team handles the ball late in games. They get lax and can't put a team away properly.

If this team has an Achilles heal, I think this is it. Just something to keep on eye on.

Sterling Pingree

Get the hell out of Dodge

The Red Sox have left Seattle, and hopefully they have left Seattle behind. A lot the same way that Billy Crystal was told to "Forget Paris" in his often overlooked movie, Forget Paris.

The road trip isn't over, but I take solice knowing that the team is atleast on the right coast now. As we wait for the results of Daisuke's MRI and report of where to go next with him, I guess things could be worse right now.

The last 6 games the Sox have dropped 5 of them, but the thing about it is this. They did it with only getting 4 innings in a start from Daisuke, Youkilis only played the first three games, Wakefield lost two starts one of them 1-0 (last night to Erik Bedard) so that means the red hot Jason Varitek didn't start two of the 6 games. The opposing pitchers they faced really couldn't have been touger either for the past 6 games. They got beat by Harden, Duchscherer and Blanton in Oakland, then miraculously beat King Felix in Seattle, before dropping a game to Miguel Batista and then got dominated by Erik Bedard who seems to be turning the corner. They faced the best of both teams, now granted for this team to take it to the next level again and get it done in October they are definately going to have to beat these pitchers because that's the quality of opponent you face in the post season. The good news is though, it's still May and the last time I checked the playoffs don't start for sometime.

These games coming up in Baltimore could go one of two ways, they can bounce back and take 2 of 3 and head into this (never thought i'd say this) big series with the Tampa Bay Rays.

-Justin Masterson's start this weekend has been moved up to this thursday, perhaps so he would be able to replace Daisuke if he misses his next start against Tampa Bay. It would either be that or have Clay Buchholz take it, but it seems more likely they will give Buchholz more time before bringing him back, while giving Masterson another start in the Majors.

-This team is definately the class of the American league, but their bullpen is still what is holding them back. If they can start getting consistent innings from Manny Delcarmen and Craig Hansen then they could solidify the back end a little bit more because it looks like Okajima is just fine, (not sure if I would have said that two weeks ago when he looked a little fatigued already). I still think the answer is trading Coco Crisp. A lot of people are now on the keep Coco bandwagon, I for one really aren't on board at all. They say there is nothing the Red Sox really need and that they are a better team with him on it. But to me, the bullpen hasn't been that great so far this season, they are near the bottom in terms of bullpen ERA, they could use another arm out there. I don't think they could find one right now from a team that is out of the play off hunt, because teams like the Royals who seem to be making a quick exit from contention have Joakim Soria locked up for the foreseeable future. So this could take some time, give Coco some time, and then move him for a proven arm in the bullpen, perhaps a veteran, NOT NAMED ERIC GAGNE!

Now we get to say hello to our old friend Kevin Millar, can we please just bring him back already? I mean he came back and threw out the first ball, yet we can't bring him back once we trade Coco Crisp?

In the mean time, tonight's a rare night off from Sox, Celts and American Idol.

So do I watch the Spurs tonight or pain dry?

Wait, it's the same thing, though paint runs more and brushes flop less than the Spurs.

Thanks I'll be here all week.

Sterling Pingree

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

No Semi-Colon; The Whole Bartolo

As an expert wrote yesterday:

" Not only does the match up not work out, it's Bartolo Colon v. Felix Hernandez, the King has dominated the Red Sox in his young and very promising career, where Bartolo has only beaten the Kansas City Royals this season."

Okay, so maybe that was me, and maybe that was yesterday, right before Bartolo Colon set the clock back to 2005. Against KC Colon was getting outs and a lot of ground ball outs to be specific mostly because his velocity was hovering right around 92-93. Which isn't bad, but the question became, could Colon win without the velocity that he was accustomed to having through out his career? Last night he proved that question irrelevant, because he did have the velocity that he did in Cleveland , Chicago and (gulp) Montreal. His fastball was consistently 95-96mph and his breaking ball was getting hitters off balance. Simply put this was a retro performance that now brings up the question; What happens now with the rotation?


1. Colon took Clay Buchholz' spot in the rotation with him hurt with a torn finger nail (which is what the injury was titled after everybody laughed when they said he was on the DL with a broken nail. Apparently, torn makes it tougher.) The easy, simple solution is leave Buchholz in the Minor's while Colon rides out the hot streak.

This is a risky solution because what might a trip to the Minor's do to the kid's psyche'? He has been with the big club all season long and seemed to have his own spot sown up with a few good starts at the end of April and beginning of May. I have been impressed with his stuff this year, the times he got himself into trouble was when he would fall off the home dugout side of the mound. Almost like he was trying to throw the ball through the catcher. Once he realizes that his stuff is good enough (namely his curve ball) he will be a top of the rotation starter.

And Francona has already turned down the notion of putting Buchholz in the bullpen as the long reliever. So that's not an option.

2. Bring Buchholz back to the rotation and send Wakefield to the bullpen as the long reliever leaving Colon in the rotation but in Wakefield's spot.

This one could actually work, though Wakefield can be very hit or miss his first couple of innings, so it's pretty much like spinning a wheel of destiny (I miss the man show) and seeing if your relief pitcher walks the bases loaded or gets three straight infield pop ups to end the inning. I think it's a risky move, but from a personnel stand point I think it could create the least amount of turbulence in the clubhouse. Wakefield is a team guy, look at his resume:

Been with the team since 1995.

Went from the rotation to the bullpen where he stayed from 1999 to 2002, even surviving a stint as the closer racking up 15 saves in 1999 and 3 saves in 2001 and 2002.

Came back to the rotation during the closer by committee era in 2003 and went 11-7 with a 4.09.

2007 World Series Wakefield is suffering from shoulder soreness and could have pitched, but wouldn't have been 100%, so he decides to help the team and gives up his spot so the team can have another long reliever. (Where o where have you gone Kyle Snyder. Aw yes, Pawtucket.)

History shows us, Wake has done anything he can to help the team, this could be a move that I could get behind.

This saves the team for now, but what happens when the Big Schill hits Fenway again in the late summer.

Tonight, Daisuke goes for 9-0 against Miguel Batista. Are the bats coming back around? Will Daisuke limit his walks against the free swinging Mariners?

This game could definitely be a test for Daisuke, can he out duel a team that is very aggressive at the plate. Perhaps this will be the outing where Matsuzaka's pitch count dictates that he can stay in the game later than he has been as of late. Let's keep the fingers crossed for that and that there isn't a Javier Lopez encounter tonight.

Go Acolytes of Hope either get outs, or get Lopez.

How sweet was Tek's camo gear last night?

Sterling Pingree

Monday, May 26, 2008

Warning: This is THAT West Coast Swing

Every season there is a west coast swing for the Sox where, there isn't a chance for them to win any game, and staying up to watch each game is absolutely painful. They could have taken the final game against Oakland, but they were out of Friday night's game by the time I tuned in, and Saturday was just an exceptionally well pitched game by Justin Duchscherer. Sunday I was in my glory during the 7th and 2/3's of the bottom of the 8Th inning, because one half the the Acolytes of Hope (Craig Hansen) had throw very well and had good downward movement with his slider and curve ball. (Slamming my hand against the wall in honor of Javier "Walking left handers, specialist" Lopez). So what does the rest of the road trip have in store?

It ain't great.

Seattle is always the house of horrors for this team, look back at the low point of last summer when the Red Sox dropped a series in Seattle even getting beat by no name starting pitchers. What will the Sox do this time around? Well starting out tonight, we don't have the match up to win this game, so that's working against us. Not only does the match up not work out, it's Bartolo Colon v. Felix Hernandez, the King has dominated the Red Sox in his young and very promising career, where Bartolo has only beaten the Kansas City Royals this season.
Game 2 looks decent for the boys, Daisuke against Miguel Batisita. Could be good because the Mariners are a free swinging team, and Daisuke has been walking a lot of guys lately, unless there are some flukish home runs off Daisuke, the Red Sox SHOULD win this game.
The Finale matches Tim Wakefield against Erik Bedard. Bedard is a Red Sox killer, and Wakefield is not in his rhythm right now and is starting to get cuffed around pretty good in his last few starts even leading to some to believe that he should be sent back into the bullpen when Clay Buchholz is healthy. I'm hoping he turns the clock back and gives us one more day of summer.
(Gotta love Vin Scully when he's playing Vin Scully).

I've got the Celtics and Red Sox on in HD tonight, with a couple good friends coming over for it. Tonight has all the makings if a couple things go right and I am wrong about everything that you have read in this column. And if history has taught us anything..........

Sterling Pingree

Friday, May 23, 2008

Draft Analysis Part One

I promised you some in depth draft analysis, and it will come. First though, I decided to break out my old school draft notebook and look through it. What is the draft notebook you ask? Well, it is very small, and it has a list of a couple of college players from each draft that I thought were going to do better than there draft position. That doesn't mean I thought they would be the best player out of the draft, just that they would perform significantly higher than their draft level suggests scouts think they will. I base my analysis on a few things; 10% college career, 5% scout hype, 10% upside potential (ha) and 75% tournament performance. So now that you are thoroughly confused, here goes nothing...

2000: Yep, I started this when I was only 13. To me that is pretty impressive.
This was one of the worst draft classes ever. Top pick was Kenyon Martin, and it's a toss up between him and Hedo Turkoglu for second best player to come out of the draft. Top would have to be Michael Redd. That is in no way complimentary. Heres what I thought would happen here.

My picks for top players as compared to draft position:
Mateen Cleaves-#14 First Round-Detroit Pistons: Again, not much to choose from. He put on a good show in college, and looked like a prototypical point guard. We'll mark this pick up to a bad overall draft and say I'm 0-1.
Desmond Mason-#17 First Round-Seattle Supersonics: Mason certainly hasn't been an all star, but for this draft class he has definitely played better than the 17th overall pick. I won't give myself a point, but I won't take one away either.

2001: This draft was much better than the last one, but certainly wasn't the best ever. It features players like Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol, Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace and...
My picks for top players as compared to draft position:
Joe Johnson-#10 First Round-Boston Celtics: Definitely got this one right. Joe Johnson really impressed me at Arkansas, and I really thought he would excel. It took him a couple years, but he has become a perennial all star. That makes me 1-2.
Gilbert Arenas-#30 Second Round-Golden State Warriors: Not trying to brag, but I absolutely nailed this one. I thought he could be a good scorer off the bench, a potential 6th man of the year candidate. He's definitely surpassed that, but that only means I was a genius for picking him to excel. This pick should be worth at least 5 points, but I can't do that, so I'm 2-3.

2002: This draft was extremely hit or miss. It features perennial all stars drafted high with Yao Ming, Amare Stoudemire and Caron Butler in the top ten. It also featured Jay Williams, Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Dajuan Wagner in the top ten.
My picks for top players as compared to draft position:
Caron Butler-#10 First Round-Miami Heat: I absolutely loved him coming out of UConn. I thought he would be the top player coming out of that draft, and while right now Carlos Boozer, Yao Ming and Amare Stoudemire are probably the top three (not in specific order), Butler is absolutely better than the number 10 selection. I remember when he was later traded along with Lamar Odom for Shaq and everyone thought the Lakers could have gotten a lot more. At the time I thought the Lakers made out great, getting two potential all stars for one aging all star. Can you imagine if the Lakers hadn't let Butler go? They would have quite possibly one of the best backcourts in the history of the game, and both him and Kobe are still fairly young. 3-4.
Dajuan Wagner-#6 First Round-Cleveland Cavaliers: Yeah, I chalk this one up to the fact that I was traveling through New Jersey when I read a newspaper. Front page? Local high schooler Dajuan Wagner puts up 100 in one game. I was sold from then on. Clearly it hasn't worked out for him, but I bet he saved that newspaper clipping. I know I would. And he scored over 40 a game for a full season. Who wouldn't expect big things out of him. Oh well. 3-5.

2003: One of the top drafts in NBA history. This draft features Lebron, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and a couple other guys I'll get too. This also marked the year I expanded my draft predictions to a few more players, as just two guys was getting kind of boring, and I thought I was doing fairly well.
My picks for top players as compared to draft position.
Dwayne Wade-#5 First Round-Miami Heat: I'll be honest here. I didn't know much about Dwayne Wade till the tournament, and then I saw him and knew he was a star. Clearly so far I have this one right. 4-6.
David West-#18 First Round-New Orleans Hornets: Another guy I knew would be a star after watching the tournament. Unfortunately he didn't show it until last season. I was ready to chalk him up to the wrong column, but he has definitely worked his way back to the other side. 5-7
Josh Howard-#30 First Round-Dallas Mavericks: So far he is another right pick. This draft was loaded, so I can't take too much credit, but I did make some risky picks after Wade, so I have to toot my own horn some. 6-8
Jason Kapono-#31 Second Round-Cleveland Cavaliers: I always love the guys that do one thing extremely well when it comes to second round picks. Project guys may or may not pan out, but you can almost always count on a guy that excels at doing one thing to continue to excel at that at the next level. Clearly Kapono has done exactly that with his three point shooting. 7-9

2004: This was a draft that held a lot of unknowns, both in high school players and in international guys. This is also the first year I picked a player based on very little personal experience watching/reading about the player. This draft featured, Dwight Howard, Emeka Okafor, Al Jefferson and Andre Iguodala.
My picks for top players as compared to draft position.
Robert Swift-#12 First Round-Seattle Supersonics: I thought he would be what some people expected Shawn Bradley to be. Note; never expect anything out of anyone that can be even remotely compared to Shawn Bradley. 7-10.
Sebastian Telfair-#13 First Round-Portland Trail Blazers: I was definitely influenced by all the hype this guy got. I mean, he was still getting hype last season with his dvds and everything else coming out. I dare you to find someone that continued to get coverage for so long while doing absolutely nothing. That being said, he looked like he might start to turn around his career finally with the Timberwolves. It will only happen if he can improve his jumpshot. Right now it's a wrong choice. 7-11.
Kevin Martin-#26 First Round-Sacramento Kings: Definitely got this one right. He has turned into one of the premier scorers in the league, and it looks like the Kings are going to start trying to build around him. He was an iffy pick for me because of his weird shooting style, but it worked for him in college. 8-12
Blake Stepp-#58 Second Round-Minnesota Timberwolves: White guys from Gonzaga are like the ugly girls at parties that dress slutty. Drink enough and eventually you'll start watching them more. Then you'll start to talk yourself into thinking it's a good idea to pick them. Then you do, and you wake up the next day and realize what just happened. In my defense, Jordan also fell for one in Adam Morrison. 8-13.

2005: This draft still has players developing, and thats why I will stop the scoring after this draft. I'll give you the players I picked in draft classes after this, but it's still tough to tell if they will end up doing what I think they will or not. This draft is also tough to look at, but I think I can evaluate it well enough now. This draft included Andrew Bogut and basically the entire North Carolina team that won the championship that previous NCAA season.
My picks for top players as compared to draft position.
Chris Paul-#4 First Round-New Orleans Hornets:
As a UNC fan, I hated this guy when he played for Wake Forest, but I loved watching him and Raymond Felton go at it. While I didn't expect him to be this good this soon, I knew he would be good. Thankfully I haven't kept records of guys I thought would be busts, because I thought Deron Williams would be one. Regardless, I'm now 9-14
Hakim Warrick-#19 First Round-Memphis Grizzlies: Originally I was going to count this one against me, but then I looked at his numbers from after the Gasol trade, and I was extremely impressed as he averaged 17 and 7 after the all star break. I picked him originally because of the run he made with Carmelo with Syracuse. That block in the championship game is one of the top defensive plays I've ever watched. Regardless, he looked great the second half of the season, that means he went from a negative to a positive in my book. I'll give myself the benefit of the doubt here and take a point. 10-15.
Francisco Garcia-#23 First Round-Sacramento Kings:
Another guy that has came on late. He looks to be on his way to being a 16-4-4 type player, and as the number 23 overall pick, that is definitely good value. I won't give myself a point on this one, but I won't take one away either. 10-15
David Lee-#30 First Round-New York Knicks: I remember watching him at Florida and thinking he was an absolute athletic freak. He never achieved what people thought he could while there, but this is one of the rare cases I bought upside potential, and it's panned out pretty well for me. He should have started the past two seasons, and I guarantee he breaks out even more with Dantoni as the coach. 11-16.

2006: As I said, too early to evaluate, so I'll get right to my selections.
Brandon Roy
Marcus Williams
Sergio Rodriguez
Craig Smith

Al Horford
Rodney Stuckey
Sean Williams
Marco Bellinelli

Potential 2008:
Obviously, the nature of this shows you I can't actually pick my selections till after the draft. If I had a guy I thought was a great value at 30, but he goes 15, he is no longer on my list. Here are some guys to look at though.
D.J. Augustin
Brandon Rush
Wayne Ellington
Joe Alexander
Chase Budinger
James Gist
Trent Plaisted
Eric Gordon

~Aaron Jackson

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Boston Bullpen's Acolytes of Hope

The Red Sox just took 7 straight games, their longest winning streak of the season. They took the entire homestand, (Brewers and Royals) instead of the Texas Triangle, can we call this the Midwest Line Dance or something of that nature?

Sidenote: We will probably never see a team play the Royals and then the Brewers back to back ever again, so my nickname dies there, it was so young, it never got a chance.

Today's game was particularly intriguing to me, because figuring that there has to be a game that they drop in a 4 game series, this one looked to be the one. Before I go any further, I really like the Kansas City Royals rotation. Which is weird, because their best guy statistically right now is Zack Greinke, hasn't won me over yet. Brian Bannister on the other hand, had me at hello. He works his 90-91mph fastball on the corners and really sets up hitters. The comparison is that you could say the same thing (minus 10 mph) about Jamie Moyer, but Bannister is doing it at alot younger age (27) and is really doing it as pitching as an art. Which brings me to why I enjoyed the "Thought" of today's pitching match up of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Brian Bannister. Two guys who when they are on, are incredible to watch, they paint the corners, they get called third strikes too.

Red Sox 11, Royals 8 Final

How did it become this kind of a blow out? Two things, and they pretty much revolve around Daisuke walking 6 batters and the bullpen giving up 5 runs promptly after taking the risky 11-3 lead after Mike Lowell hit a grand slam, (which I predicted the pitch before he hit it, I have witnesses) and who were the two guys who gave up the 5 runs? That's right, my two bullpen Acolytes of Hope, David Aardsma and Craig Hansen. Hansen gave up a gopher ball and then another run, Aardsma got into his 2 on 2 out scenario that he always does and this time got burned by something called Miguel Olivo, hitting a three run bomb.

Aardsma and Hansen, Hansen and Aardsma, they throw hard, I can't watch either of them pitch and not think that the runs that they give up are a result of the other team getting remarkably lucky on infield hits and weird spins and winds pushing the ball into an uncovered territory in the outfield corners.

Matthew Berry could call these two guys sexy, because of the fact that they throw hard and to me that's what you need coming out of the bullpen late in the game, just a fire breathing monster to come in and blow guys away with heat. Hansen and Aardsma are both in the high 90's with their heaters and would instill confidence in my come Ocotber, if they had been pitching well for a stretch because they throw so hard. Use Mike Timlin as a corrilary in this case, two years ago there wasn't anybody else that people wanted on the mound in a pressure situation coming out of the bullpen. His fastball though has lost a few mph's and is getting hit a little bit more, the home run has been brought into play now, and people have sort of left the bandwagon of loving the move to play Black Betty at the Fens and bring in Timlin. Velocity might have something to do with this and the other guy who could be used as an example is Keith Foulke.

How many saves did Foulke register when you just fully believed that the batter he was facing wasnt't going to sit on his change up and rip him for a home run? Was it because he topped out at 89-90 and pitched mostly 88 with the heater and 80 with the change up and everything seemed to be dead center of the plate. Now Jonathan Papelbon is right around the plate for the most part, misses locations when he tries to go way upstairs with the high fast ball but he gets away with it because he throws 97.

My last posts make me seem like a nut for radar gun readings and makes me sound like I get wood off flame throwers in the bullpen. They are just beacons of hope, no, they are: THE ACOLYTES OF HOPE!

Sterling Pingree

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

His Daddy was a pistol. That makes Justin a Son of a Gun

Justin Masterson. The kid has got it.
He has the motion of Dennis Eckersley, the 91mph power sinker, and the height (6'6 feet tall).
This kid looks like someone we will see throwing at Fenway Park for years to come and perhaps lining up to see at some point. Two years from now the Red Sox rotation could look like this, (if you're a Red Sox fan, read this and try not to get so giddy you can't eat supper tonight):
(Let's just take a break right here and smoke a cigar and laugh a deep hearty laugh).

All in their 20's and all have shown differing levels of accomplishment in the Majors. This group houses 5 world series rings, 2 no-hitters, an World Series and ALCS MVP awards and the only MVP ever in the World Baseball Classic, even though Masterson has only made two starts in the Major Leagues and has won only one, (should have won two, Javier Lopez ERRRGGGG).
Not to say that I don't believe that Tim Wakefield won't be around in two years, this is just thinking what could happen, because we know that Schilling is done after this year.

This raises one question; What about Bartolo?
The answer to that we will find out tonight. We might have a problem if he munches the Royals like a hoagie.

Sterling Pingree

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

And It Was A Good Time Had By All

As Mr. Pingree informed you over the weekend, I was recently in Fenway for the three game series against the Milwaukee Brewers. And while I cannot tell you the velocity at which David Aarsdma threw the ball or the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow, I can tell you that if you don't take trips like this at some point in your life you are missing out on a lot. To put some perspective to this, I'll tell you this. My two friends (in the picture it goes me, D-Train and Swain) and I have decided once a year we will get tickets to a baseball series at a ball park. The only caveat is that we see a different team each year. Everything else varies. Last year we saw a three game series against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway, and ended up becoming friends with Wily Mo Pena and going out to Boston Billiards with him to his private room. This year we decided to go back to Fenway, seeing the three game series against the Milwaukee Brewers. Between the games and the fun after the games we had a great weekend, and while I can't give you every detail (wouldn't you like to know) I can tell you what happened over this weekend.

FRIDAY: I left my house around 7 or 8, and I yelled as I left "Yo home, smell ya later"...Ok, so maybe I stole that from Will Smith, but still. I met my friend D-Train in Augusta, then we went to pick up my friend Swain. We decided to stop and get some lunch, and inevitably missed the Amtrak from Portland to Boston. We then had to take the next train, getting into North Station around 5. We got a couple slices at Halftime Pizza across the street (great stuff if you've never had it), then got picked up by the girl we were staying with. From there it was on to Fenway. Unfortunately, Friday nights game was rained out. We drank at Who's On First till the make up game was announced, then met up with some friends and went to Jake Ivory's. If you haven't been there I suggest you do, great club to go to. There I got adopted by a bachelorette party, and this is where I leave parts out. Around 2 AM we started hanging out with a different group of girls, and eventually made our way back to their house. We get there, I'm talking to this girl in the corner, we're hitting it off, then I look up and realize one of my friends have left and the other one is being told to get a cab. I still don't know what they did, but they pissed some people off, and I ended up going with them because that's what friends do. We got back to the place we were staying at 3:30ish.

SATURDAY: Doubleheader time...only I have a massive hangover from about 75 bucks worth of drinking. We go to the first game, and make our first prop bet of the day. I win the bet, which was how many walks would Dice K have. I took the under, with the line being 4. Then we meet up with some friends at the Uno's down the street and end up being late to game 2 of the doubleheader, showing up mid 1st inning. The prop bet for this game was over under 8 runs. I win again, taking the over. Second straight free round of drinks for me. After that we go out with the girls we were staying with to Jake Ivory's and then Tequila Rain. We also got promised by some Brewers fans that they would buy us each two beers tomorrow because we were "the men". Those beers never came. From there we got a cab, only the cabbie didn't like the fact that there was a girl sitting on my lap because there was five people in the cab. He kicks us out onto the street, and we end up at their place around 2:30. He was clearly a hater. Regardless, we go to bed around 4. On a side note, the picture up top is us that night. We had seats that night, unlike the other two games where we had standing room, and they were pretty nasty. Box 89. This guy was completely passed out as chants of "Lets go Red Sox" competed with "Lets go Brewers", with chants of "We Want Gagne" and "You Can Have Him" also mixed in. He eventually woke up after getting hit with three quarters from guys up about 10 rows and us yelling and shaking him. He then told us he "f#$ked Matt Damon and Ben Affleck". We didn't know how to respond.

Sunday: This is when it's time to man up. All three of us are working on next to no sleep, but we are ready to go. We get pumped up by watching about half of Varsity Blues then watching part of The Replacements. Then it's off to Fenway, where we have our second set of standing room only tickets. First, actually, is Popeyes chicken off Fenway. After being tricked into getting extra food by the spinning Popeyes food wheel (it was similar to Wheel of Fortune, great idea by whoever made it) we head to the pahk. There I meet up with some other friends and end up on the Green Monster, while my two buddies stayed in standing room behind home plate, where they got hit on by a really hot 35 year old. One of my buddies on the monster had the comment of the day when he saw a Brewers fan and said "You guys are gonna get swept, but at least you have Brett Fa...OH yeah." The prop bet for this one; Beckett strike outs, over or under 7. I take the under, and I would've won had Beckett not came out for the 7th after giving up 6 runs. Unfortunately, Francona has a brain fart and leaves him in, and Beckett strikes out two more just an inning after giving up his 5th and 6th run on solo homers to Braun and Fielder. I lose on a prop bet at Fenway for the first time in 7 tries. After that we walked/took the bus back to Brighton where we were staying, then walked/bussed back to Fenway, hopped on the green line, and went to North Station and made it in time to see the atmosphere of Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 7. Then we got some supper and drinks at Boston Beer Works, and got on the Amtrak at 11:20. We get back to Portland around 2:30, and after everyone is dropped off and I get home it is 5:30 AM on Monday. I once again man up and still make it into work at ABC by 10:30.

Also, Ryan Braun is an absolute beast. I know the Sox swept the series, but he was the best player in the ball park. He was unbelievable.

All in all, a great weekend. Plans are already being made for next years trip. Personally, I would like to go see Wrigley Field, but we won't know for a while.

I'll get out an NBA Draft preview in the coming weeks, but for some breaking news, here is the order.

1. Chicago Bulls
2. Miami heat
3. Minnesota Timberwolves
4.Seattle/Oklahoma City Sonics
5. Memphis Grizzlies
6. New York Knicks
7. Los Angeles Clippers
8. Milwaukee Bucks
9. Charlotte Hornets
10. New Jersey Nets
11. Indiana Pacers
12. Sacramento Kings
13. Portland Trail Blazers
14. Golden State Warriors

~Aaron Jackson

What a difference a year makes.

How incredible has the career of Jon Lester been already? Timeline Time!!!

~ June 10, 2006, Jon Lester makes his Major League debut against Texas

Lester goes 7-2 in his debut season before a fender bender on Storrow Drive in Boston reveals a pain in his back, then becomes diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. His career was put into jeopardy.

~ July 23, 2007, Lester battles back from non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma to start against the Cleveland Indians, in Cleveland. He went 6 innings, gave up 2 earned, walked 3 and struck out 6 earning the victory in front of his parents who made the trip from Washington state to be there for the night.

This game was such an event that I had to record it, it was that kind of game. Nobody could see the next 10 months happening for Jon Lester.

~2007 Regular season:

Jon Lester 4-0 4.57 ERA, 1.46 WHIP

Heading into the post-season Lester was left out of the rotation in favor for Tim Wakefield in the ALCS against Cleveland. He made two appearances out of the bullpen one dreadful in game two, one spectacular in game 4 in Cleveland, going three innings giving up nothing, while striking out 4.

~2007 World Series

Jon Lester 1-0 0.00 ERA 5.2 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 3 SO. Game 4 winner, World Series clinching victory.

Barely more than 3 months since he made his first outing of the season, he won the clinching game of the World Series for the Boston Red Sox. He not only won the game, but looked outstanding doing it, looking stronger than he had all season and throwing a devastating cut fastball that had me giddy.

~ May 19, 2008

Jon Lester W (3-2) 9.0, 0 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 9 SO No-Hitter

In one of "Those" games, Lester throws the 18th No-Hitter in Red Sox history and the first by a left hander since Mel Parnell in 1956. His stuff got better as the game went on, in my constant obsession with the gun, his radar readings were 95mph in the 9th inning. This is something that I haven't seen since he first came up in 2006, when he was around 93-94 range. Last night he was more consistently around 94-95 and even hit 96mph in the 8th inning. He has put together a nice streak of games leading into this game, getting two wins in his last 4 starts, but in both no decisions the game was blown in the 9th and 8th innings respectively. Going forward in this season is looks as if Lester is where he thought he was going to be two years ago before he was diagnosed, and now he is throwing smoke and consistently getting hitters out. What a career it has been already for Lester, beat cancer, won the World Series clincher and has thrown a no-hitter.

By the way, he's 24 years old and has only been in the Major Leagues for parts of 3 seasons.

The future is very bright for Jon Lester and his career is already a part of Red Sox lore.

Sterling Pingree

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I've been called out!!!

On this very site, I feel that I have been called out by my compatriot on this website, Mr. Jackson, about whether or not I will continue to contribute to this website. It was the way he said that he was going to continue the site and contribute the best he could, (it really sounded as if he was running for political office instead of alerting our readers that the site will continue past the end of our final semester). The better way of saying what has happened to the site is this, we've trimmed the fat. We realized that after the semester that if this site (it's a site, not a fan of the word blog) that we didn't need 5 contributors when Jackson and I were clearly the best (and not necessarily in that order).
In short, I will be contributing to the site. Comically, in depth, I mean come on it's Baseball season. This is my time right now. I mean who else noticed tonight that David Aardsma was flirting with throwing 100mph against the Brewers? (Tangent starts.......NOW).

Jackson is at Fenway for this entire weekend series with the Brewers, which to me is a nice little series historically. It marks the first time the Brewers have played at Fenway Park since they left the American League, but also look at it from a purist's perspective. Today's game started at 4pm, that is a great time to watch a ball game, (I feel between 4 and 5 is the best time to do anything, especially play golf), so you have a good match up on the field with two teams with extremely passionate fan bases, which can never be overlooked. My roommate this year asked me to find him a good game to take his dad to for his first game since he was a cub scout. I knew he wanted it sometime in May, the second I saw this game, I told him that was the game to go to. It was from the first pitch (thrown out by former WWE Champion John Cena) to the final out (caught by Alex Cora in short left center).

The question that I would like to ask Jackson is what was up with the Fenway Park radar gun? As much as I wanted to watch this afternoon's game, I had to settle for watching only the nightcap of the double header because of a previous engagement (graduation BBQ's are a great thing). From watching the second game though, the radar gun was going crazy once Tim Wakefield left the game in the 6th inning. Aardsma came into the game and was throwing 96. Which is about the high end of what he throws for with his fastball. His next fastball was 97, followed by 97 again and then he hit 98mph. At this point my Dad and I are looking at the gun readings after every pitch to see how high he was going to do. Finally he got a foul tip that clocked at 99mph! Seriously, how do you come up with a guy who has been discarded by 3 teams who throws 99mph for nothing and has had no major shoulder or elbow surgeries? This doesn't just happen, which might lead me to believe that the gun readings were a farce. What followed is what further confused me.
The next pitcher into the game for Boston was Craig Hansen. I've been an admirer of Hansen's since Boston took him at the end of the first round in 2005 out of St. John's. He has always had smoke, legitimately getting it up there at 98-99 mph even with his struggles in the major's his gas has never wavered. So at this point, I've got to think that Aardsma was actually throwing 98-99 on the NESN gun. So far this is the only game of the series that I have seen and it's the only NESN game, I'm very much looking forward to watching tomorrow's game to see what Josh Beckett is reading, because he might be throwing 104mph.
To further gum up the works is that Mike Timlin's 1-2-3 9th inning, the radar gun had him reading at 94mph. If this is true, it might be the best thing to happen to the Red Sox since Jonathan Papelbon. If you will remember it was 2005 when Mike Timlin made 81 appearances, the most of his career. He was 39 when he did that and since then his fast ball has been hovering more around 91-92mph. It was in that 2005 season where he had the 81 appearances and only registered a 2.24 ERA, that he has had a fastball that clocked in the 94-95 range.

I was called out a few posts ago by Aaron Jackson, now here I am calling him out to know where the radar gun readings were at the ballpark. Three different TV stations are covering the three different games. I would be charting this kind of thing, but that's just me.

Sterling Pingree

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lowered Expectations

Mike Dantoni has recently been linked to the New York Knicks as their newest coach. Most analysts and columnists are ripping into him, saying he is "all about the money" and that the Knick's job is the worst job of his possible options. I'm here to tell you that the analysts are wrong...heres why.

First off, coaches are constantly hired and fired, so Dantoni taking the best offer is absolutely what is best for him and his family. You never know if you will get another chance to bank on your talents, so he should take the best offer he can and run with it. The critics of the move are hypocrites, because I guarantee that if they were in the same situation they would also take the money. Very few people would throw away the chance to better their situation financially just because it isn't the ideal situation for a work environment.

Secondly, the New York Knicks position is the best of the available positions Dantoni has. The reason I say this is two fold. One, there are no expectations on him to start. No one expects the team to succeed right away, so if he misses the playoffs again he won't be fired immediately, but if he does make the playoffs with that team next year he will get praise for doing so. And it's not like the talent isn't there, he just needs to make the pieces work. Also, staying with the Suns clearly was not working, and the Bulls job is not an ideal one for anyone. Sure, they came off a disappointing year this year, but expectations are still high for the team based off past seasons. If they don't contend in the East right away with Dantoni he will immediately be on the hot seat.

Third, the Knicks are starting to turn the corner. The Isiah Thomas regime is over and Donnie Walsh has started the rebuilding process, and he is a veteran GM who will do it the right way. Also, New York is still considered one of the teams the greats go to, so when they free up money for free agents they will be able to compete for just about any player. Maybe that means getting Lebron, maybe not, but either way they still have the prestige factor on their side. Nevermind the fact that the current roster, as constructed, will be a playoff team next year should Dantoni officially take the position. And please, write that down, because I will not be wrong on this. The team is built for him to run it.

~Aaron Jackson

Thursday, May 8, 2008

White Hat Sports

As we mentioned in the first post, this blog started as a class assignment. The semester is now closing out, and most of us will be going on to either our next school year or the "real world". However, I plan on keeping the blog running. It may not be updated as much as other blogs, as I am working as a full time reporter now (you can watch my work on ABC-7 out of Bangor and Bangor's Fox affiliate), but I will strive to continue to provide quality material to the 5 people actually reading this blog. As far as I know, I will be the only one running it, although Sterling has expressed some interest in sticking with it. What I need from anyone that regularly reads this is ideas. The name of the blog is pretty obscure, and I've considered changing it, but don't really have any ideas as to what to change it to. I'm thinking something more interesting would be helpful in getting more people to view the site. Any other ideas would be great as well, just leave them in the comments. I really want to promote this and get more people reading it, so any suggestions you have for improvements to the blog are very helpful. I've noticed that we don't have many people commenting on most of the posts, and really would like to change that. There is no point in writing something if noone is reading it and having a reaction to it. On a personal note, it will also help me become a better writer.

Thanks for your time, and keep reading
~Aaron Jackson

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Resting Easy

It seems like every year the San Antonio Spurs have a decent regular season and then "turn it on" come playoff time. I'm here to tell you that's not the case. The Spurs don't just glide through the regular season and then play ridiculously harder when the playoffs start. At least, no more than any other team would. Obviously, people play harder come playoff time than they would in game 13 of an 82 game season. But that isn't why the Spurs have so much playoff success. There is another reason altogether, one that is so obvious I am amazed no "experts" have looked into it. Here it is...

The San Antonio Spurs are one of the older teams in the league, both in actual age and in style of play. They also rely on two players in Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker who's style of play involves them throwing their bodies around, leading to smaller injuries that can be annoying over the course of an 82 game season. All this leads to one thing. The NBA playoffs take an extremely long time, and that is because there is always a break in between games. During the regular season the Spurs may be forced to play 5+ games in a row, and that is when the small injuries and overall age show up. Give these guys a couple days off between each and every game and they are able to play at their highest level night in and night out.

It's really a simple idea. Anyone that has played some level of basketball in their lives knows that there are small injuries and aches all the time. If you are forced to play multiple days in a row those injuries don't have time to rest, and it affects the way you play. If it's a shoulder injury your shot is off, if it's a sore ankle your lateral movement is off, if it's a knee everything is off. These small aches and pains aren't overly serious though, and given a day to heal, especially with all the modern technology NBA trainers have, these small injuries can go away pretty quickly. That is the real reason the Spurs have playoff success, not the "turning it on" factor.

By the way, don't say no one predicted the Hawks couldn't win in the playoffs...just look right here and you'll see I did exactly that. For what it's worth, I've been on the Hornets bandwagon all year as well, as you probably know by reading one of my many posts on them. I'm sticking with them all the way, and picked them to win it all in the end. Probably in the minority here, but I'll be looking pretty smart when I'm right.

~Aaron Jackson